Gearing Up For the Stretch Run

The Terps remaining three games will not only decide their bowl fate, but also a possible ACC title game berth.

Coming off the loss in Miami, the Terps are getting set for a three game stretch to finish the season that will not only determine their bowl fate, but possibly a berth in the ACC Championship Game.

While all kinds of different scenarios can unfold there’s one that is quite simple for the Terps: win out and you represent the Atlantic Division in Charlotte on December 4th.

“We have been fortunate with how crazy the Atlantic Division is this year that we still control our own destiny,” said freshman quarterback Danny O’Brien. “If we can just win one week at a time, things will be set up for us."

With Florida State and North Carolina State losing last week, Maryland’s loss wasn’t as big as it could have been. “We are in the same position we were last week,” said junior wide receiver Torrey Smith. “We have to go out and take care of business against Virginia and let things take care of themselves."

The Terps head to Charlottesville on Saturday having lost their last three contests against rival Virginia Cavaliers, who have been a highly inconsistent squad this season. Early in the year, Virginia nearly upset USC, proceeded to lose their first three ACC games, but then toppled Miami two weeks ago.

Maryland and North Carolina State trail Florida State by a half game in the division, sitting at 3-2 in conference while the Seminoles are 4-2. Florida State, who has lost their last two, hosts Clemson on Saturday night. The Wolfpack lost to Clemson last week, but welcomes Wake Forest this week, with the Deacons in the midst of a seven game losing streak.

As the Terps offense struggled to consistently move the ball against Miami on Saturday, Virginia’s defense allowed Duke to score 55 point. The Terps may very well be catching the Cavaliers at the right time.

While few would question that Virginia is the easiest game remaining on the Terps schedule, Saturday afternoon’s affair could very well be a trap game for the Terps.

However, head coach Ralph Friedgen is adamant that the Terps aren’t looking past Virginia. “Right now we need to concentrate on Virginia and see what happens after that,” said Friedgen. “I mentioned to the team last night, we need to jump back up on our feet and we need to slow it down. We haven't looked past our next game and we will not do that now.”

The conference announced this week that Maryland’s contest with Florida State next Saturday will be a nationally televised affair at 8 p.m. and the annual “Blackout Game,” and pending the result of that game, the season finale against North Carolina State could be another primetime contest.

As Maryland gets set for the stretch run, it’s key for the Terps to do as Friedgen said, and take it game-by-game. The team can’t afford to slip up against Virginia, a team poised to play spoiler. With North Carolina State taking on a struggling Wake Forest squad on Saturday, it’s even more vital that the Terps emerge from Charlottesville with a victory.

“I told the team that just because you are bowl eligible, does not mean you are going to make a bowl,” said Friedgen. “We spoke about what Virginia is able to do that could jeopardize not just our bowl contention, but our conference championship.”

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